A native Californian, Eric Merrell lived and studied on the East Coast for a few years before returning to the West Coast. Much of his work is inspired by the Golden State, from its deserts to its skate parks.
His approach to painting has always been founded on an interest in the history of painting as a way of informing his own ideas and forging an individual path. Uninterested in adhering to a style, Merrell paints things and places that hold meaning for him. Following this vein, deserts have provided inspiration for more than 15 years, opening up new opportunities for composing space and designing shapes.
Nocturnes, and in particular desert nocturnes, have become a significant part of his oeuvre for the freedom they allow and the mystery they contain. A short film about the artist’s approach and dedication to painting night scenes, titled Nocturnes, was released in January 2016.
Merrell was selected for a Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency in 2009, during which he spent two summer months painting in the Mojave Desert. Two solo exhibitions of the work were subsequently held, the first in New York City in 2010, and another the following year in Pasadena, California. In 2019 he was chosen for an Artist Residency with the Mojave National Preserve Artist Foundation; plans for an exhibition are forthcoming.
Balancing abstraction and representation, Merrell’s paintings reflect an intense awareness of place: his knowledge of the history, geography, flora, and fauna of a location unite with his sense of color and design. Whether depicting concrete streets in an urban metropolis, a portrait painted outside, a playful still life, or the poetry of solitude in the vast desert night, they stand apart.
His work has been exhibited at the Autry Museum of the American West, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum in Malibu, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, USC Fisher Museum of Art, the Wildling Museum in Santa Ynez, and in the Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale in Denver, as well as at other museums and venues across the United States.
Eric Merrill is represented by Maxwell Alexander Gallery, Los Angeles, California.